EDMONTON, AB – The Prince George Cougars battled back to earn a point Friday, in their 5-4 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings, kicking-off their three-game Alberta road trip.
Prince George came back from three separate one-goal deficits to push the game beyond regulation, before Edmonton scored the only goal of the three-round shootout.
Jared Bethune, Jackson Leppard, Aaron Boyd and Brogan O’Brien scored in the loss, and Isaiah DiLaura made 23-saves in his WHL debut. Andrei Pavlenko, Colton Kehler, Ethan Cap and Tomas Soustal scored for Edmonton, with Soustal scoring in the shootout as well.
It was the start the Cougars wanted to their weekend road swing, as Bethune scored less than a minute into the game, tapping in a backdoor pass with just 45-seconds gone. Kody McDonald made a nice pass from the left-wing and Bethune had an open net staring him down on the glove side.
The Oil Kings had a push back and struck twice in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead into intermission. Much Like Bethune’s goal, Pavlenko scored after a great set up by Trey Fix-Wolansky. Edmonton had an odd-man rush and Fix-Wolanksy came down the right-wing before dishing the puck across to Pavlenko at the back-post just past the seven-minute mark.
Kehler grabbed Edmonton their first lead seven-minutes after their tying goal, as he squeezed a shot past DiLaura and inside the post with just over five-minutes left in the frame.
Prince George came back to make it 2-2 early in the second, as Jackson Leppard scored on a nice setup by McDonald. From below the goal-line, McDonald took the puck away from the defender and flipped it back out front to Leppard, who wasted no time smacking a quick backhand past Travis Child at 3:41.
The Oil Kings did get their lead back and it wasn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination. Edmonton defenceman Ethan Cap had his backhand pass from the circle go off a skate, flutter high in the air, and over a screened DiLaura’s and underneath the cross-bar at 4:55.
Prince George bounced back and quickly, as Aaron Boyd tied the game at 3-3 just 53-seconds later. Boyd came down the right-wing, cut to middle but had his initial shot blocked. Fortunately, the puck came right back to him and he snapped his own rebound underneath the arm of Child; Boyd burring his third of the season.
Things tighten up in the third and it was deadlocked at threes until the final five-minutes. The Cougars had a great chance to go ahead on a power-play but it was the Oil Kings making noise short-handed.
After a turnover at the Oil Kings’ blue-line Tomas Soustal had a partial breakaway the other way but couldn’t beat DiLaura before crashing into the net, but the referee signaled for the penalty-shot. Soustal showed great patience, outwaiting DiLaura and sliding the puck through his legs for the rare short-handed penalty-shot goal, with just over five-minutes remaining. However, just like on Edmonton’s last goal, the Cougars had an almost immediate response.
On the same Cougars’ power-play, Brogan O’Brien tied the game back up, as he followed the puck to the net and cleaned up a rebound near the crease. Dennis Cholowski had his point shot stopped, but the rebound kicked-out to O’Brien who quickly roofed it; O’Brien scoring a minute and a half after Edmonton went ahead.
Three-on-three overtime didn’t produce a winner as both teams traded chances in an entertaining frame.
In the shootout, it was only Edmonton’s Soustal finding the back of the net amongst the six shooters. Just like his goal in the third, Soustal scored five-hole on DiLaura. Bethune was the Cougars last chance but and he clanked the cross-bar over the goalie’s glove.
Shots: 5-4 Oil Kings
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-3 Oil Kings 0-3
Three Stars: 1) Tomas Soustal 2) Jared Bethune 3) Ethan Clap
The Cougars road record drops to 2-1-0-1 with the shootout loss. Prince George (3-5-2-1) continues their weekend road trip with a stop in Red Deer Saturday night to face the Rebels.